News / Africa

Rights Group Calls on South Sudan to Stop Harassing Journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists says at least 10 journalists
The Committee to Protect Journalists says at least 10 journalists "and probably many more" have been harassed since South Sudan plunged into conflict eight months ago.
Lucy PoniMugume Davis Rwakaringi

International media rights organization the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on the authorities in South Sudan to ensure the safety of freelance journalist Abraham Agoth and others who have been harassed for their reporting during eight months of conflict in the country.

Agoth became concerned for his safety and went into hiding last month, CPJ East Africa Representative Tom Rhodes said, adding that his case is not isolated.

“Since this conflict began, I believe we have come across at least 10 cases -- and there are probably many more -- where journalists are harassed or threatened with arrest for their reporting," Rhodes said.

"It goes along with this notion that some of the authorities want journalists not to cover the conflict or at least cover only their side of the conflict," he said.

Agoth's problems began in early July when he was called to the office of Northern Bahr el Ghazal caretaker governor Kuel Aguer Kuel and questioned about his reporting of protests by shop owners in Aweil, who said the police were not doing enough to protect them from burglars. 

Officials were also reportedly upset at Agoth’s reporting on security issues in the state, and he was warned not to report on attacks by rebels in the state.

That warning echoed what Information Minister Michael Makuei told South Sudan in Focus earlier this year -- that broadcasting or publishing interviews with rebel leaders inside South Sudan was "subversive activity" and could put the journalist on the wrong side of the law.

Journalists self-censor

Rhodes said the authorities' stance is leading journalists in South Sudan to self-censor their work at a time when the country needs accurate reporting.

"Maybe the biggest problem, the most pervasive problem journalists are facing now is the steady flow of intimidation, whether by the authorities or the rebel movement, to go silent, to self censor," he said.

"That is a very worrying trend for us, particularly at this time when South Sudanese citizens really need to know what is going on,” Rhodes said.

While there is a need for balanced and professional reporting, and officials are justifiably concerned with media reports that incite panic or violence, there is no reason for government officials to crack down on journalists during times of conflict.

Presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny insisted that the conditions under which journalists work in South Sudan are not as bad as are being reported.

“I see South Sudan as one of the countries that allow freedom of expression... in the sense that even some journalists can contact the rebels and play the response of rebels inside South Sudan,” he said.

Ateny denied that tthe government has a policy of cracking down on the media but admitted that some journalists may have been harassed.

But he said any instances of harassment of journalists were "isolated" and could have happened "anywhere in the world."

Agoth reports for South Sudan in Focus, for the Gurtong Trust and independent newspaper, The Patriot.

Mugume Davis Rwakaringi reported from Juba.

 

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: uria guya from: juba
August 07, 2014 4:29 PM
The journalist must report responsible,

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs